Chief Luthuli on when to pause in a boycott campaign

I recognise that it is the decision of Wits and other students whether or not they pause in the quest to realise goals beyond what have been realised up till now.

It is not my job to offer unsolicited advice. This is a comment for consideration. My concern is that if Wits alone or Wits and one or two other universities continue boycotting classes or shutting the universities, they may find themselves isolated. It is important to set intermediate goals in order to retain the unity that may become frayed if campaigns are prolonged, rather than undertaken in phases. But as I say, I have not been asked my opinion and I quote Chief Albert Luthuli on the Alexandra bus boycott in 1957 because it may have a bearing on their thinking:

“A stage was reached when an honourable conclusion became a possibility, as a result of a set of proposals made by the Chamber of Commerce….To put it briefly, the Chamber of Commerce appeared willing to do what the adamant government refused to do, which was to subsidise the company indirectly rather than place a new burden on poor folk. It was here that Congress leadership came in.

“The difficulty was that the boycott was such an unqualified success that many people wanted to extend it whether or not the boycotters’ demands were met. To us it seemed that if the declared objective could be attained, the boycott should cease. We were very much aware of the hardship of rank and file boycotters, and aware, too, that if opinion became divided the whole boycott might fizzle out and the government intention ultimately triumph. For these reasons we threw the weight of our argument in on the side of terminating the boycott if the initial demands of the people were met. There is an end to endurance. That is a reality which wise leadership must take into account….”

Let My People Go page 172

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